DISCARDED cigarette butts collected from Harrow's streets could be recycled to make insulation.

Harrow Council is talking to a waste processing company about new technology that makes it possible for butts to be pressurised, detoxed and steamed, ultimately breaking them down to create fibres for reuse.

At present, cigarette ends swept up by street cleaners end up in landfill.

But this new method can produce 'pillows' of warm roof lining that could be used to lag council housing.

Councillor Susan Hall (Conservative), Harrow Council's portfolio holder for the environment, welcomed the plan. Cigarette butts are unsightly and at present add to our landfill costs," she said. "We are evaluating whether they can be put to better use.

"Harrow is the second best recycler in London with a rate of 44 per cent, but any cost-efficient new technology that drives that rate up is clearly worth considering - this could be the filter tip of the iceberg!"

The Observer understands that discussions are still at such an early stage that the council is yet to evaluate whether it is actually practical and financially viable to introduce such a process into its recycling service.